Vaginal Massage Therapy
I’ll never forget the day I held that prescription in my hand. The one that said, “Pelvic Floor Release.” I looked at it, laughed a nervous laugh, and as soon as I got the chance, I called all my friends and told them my insurance was now covering orgasms. Because I am basically a 12-year old at heart.
And because my anxiety surrounding this whole new adventure had me needing to laugh about it, if only so that by laughing, I could pretend as though it didn’t totally freak me out.
Pelvic floor therapy was what my doctor called it. I called it PT for my cootchie, or vagina therapy for short. After years of battling chronic pelvic pain as a result of endometriosis, I was experiencing muscle spasms … down there. I hadn’t even known this was happening. My doctor was the one who discovered it as he prepped me for what would be my third surgery in just two years. According to him, every time he tried to perform a basic exam, my vagina clamped shut.
Apparently this is somewhat normal for women with pelvic pain conditions. You get so used to it, you don’t even notice it’s happening. When you’re in pain like that all the time, you start clamping down. And just like any other muscle in your body, all that tension can eventually cause spasms. In my case, my vagina was in a constant state of clench. Completely unintentional on my part. Completely out of my control.
A lot of women with endometriosis have pain during sex as a result of this issue. I enjoyed sex, personally, but there was always pain associated with getting started, which I now understood to be a result of having to push past that clench. Long before, I had simply decided that I preferred small penises. In fact, this was so completely my normal state of being that I was convinced all other women secretly preferred small penises as well — that the “bigger is better” thing was a myth perpetuated by male ego. When you deal with something for long enough, you start to convince yourself it’s normal, no matter how abnormal it may be.
But here this doctor was, telling me it was actually an issue — one that was contributing to my pain levels, and one that could be treated.
With pelvic floor therapy.
He told me it would be just like seeing a physical therapist for any other muscle. That it wasn’t as scary as I was already making it out to be in my head. And then he promised to find a female doctor in my area to help me find the “release” I apparently needed.
I smiled and nodded, tucking that prescription in my purse, knowing I would never use it. I might frame it, just because it was funny, but there was no way I was ever going to submit to a pelvic massage, or anything of the sort.
It took six weeks after that surgery before I was cleared for physical activity. As soon as I was, I signed up for a Pilates boot camp, determined to start getting back into some sort of shape after over a year spent laid up in bed in pain. That first night, however, the instructor handed out a pelvic floor self-assessment. I hadn’t even really thought about how Pilates might be related to my pelvic floor; it had just been something I’d been wanting to try. But as I looked down at that sheet, my heart sank. It included 10 items. Things like:
- Do you experience pain during intercourse?
- Do you have ongoing lower back pain?
- Do you lack control with urination?
The instructor was telling us that pelvic floor issues were common, especially among women who had given birth. She said that Pilates could help, but that if you answered “yes” to more than five of the items on the list, you should also seek out pelvic floor therapy.